Friday, December 31, 2004

Tilt-a-whirl - Vegas pt. 3

My hand throbbed. It hadn't started swelling yet, but it hurt. A lot. People looked at me somewhat curiously, but a solo guy muttering to himself after midnight in a Vegas Strip casino probably isn't that uncommon a sight.

I fed some money into a slot machine and checked out my hand; the pain was starting to fade into the backround, and I pounded the keys on the slot machine, settling in for a good think.

I'd arrived in Vegas 48 hours earlier. I sat down at a poker table and began cleaning out a drunk. I was making money - plenty of money, and I was kicking all sorts off ass at the tables.

But winning is always fun.

I could do no wrong - outside of Saturday's tournament, but around midnight on Saturday, the horseshoe fell out of my ass, and everyone at the table started beating me over the head with it.

By Sunday afternoon, I'd lost a ton of money. People playing crap hands were catching their breaks. I would go 45 minutes to an hour without catching any good cards - then I would draw dead on the flop. Painful.

I'm not a particularly patient person. I'm far more patient than I once was, but there are limits. And when I sat down at the table of drunken frat boys, I could see the line. When my two pairs lost because one of them caught his straight on the river (with his pocket 6-8o) I could feel the boil building. Walk away! said the voice in my head. One more hand. I seethed.

Pocket aces peeked up at me, and the little voice called for the attack. I raised preflop and found four callers. Not what I expected, but I'd happily take their cash. So of course, two queens come up on the flop. By now, I was tilting so hard people playing the slots were trying to figure out what that ringing sound was. I began throwing money in the pot, even when I knew I'd drawn dead yet again. I finally folded - fortunately, because one of my opponents showed the third queen.

So I smiled. Cashed out my few remaining chips, walked out of the poker room and slapped the wall. Hard.

Stupid. I was playing badly. Trying to force hands that I'd clearly won. Pocket aces lose 50% of the time. Patience. I had it yesterday, but I'd lost it. I needed to rediscover it. And most importanly, I'd stopped having fun.

And really, that was the reason we were there: to have fun. Not to win a fortune - though it would be nice. So lighten up, dammit!

I walked back to the Excalibur and sat back down at a 1-3 table full of cowboys and college kids. Lots of action - lots of calling down to the river. Patience. Patience.

Finally, pocket aces showed up. I raised pre-flop and had three callers. Better. Two sevens flopped. Crap. But this table wasn't very good, so I might be able to steal the pot right here, so I bet. Two folds - and the remaining guy - a younger guy with a mess of curly hair pushing out from under his red baseball cap - stared at his cards for a long, long time.

This was stupid. He just told me that he didn't have the seven. It should have been clear to him that I had overcards, so unless he paired the board, he was hosed. Then he called. And the third seven came up on the river. Now I knew I had him beat, so I bet him all the way down. And his 10-6o didn't hold up to the aces.

It was a nice pot and a nice confidence-rebuilder. I was ready to face Monday - a day of poker "experts" and a very nice rush.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Standby . . .

See? I still exist. It's just with Christmas, two colds, a couple of dates and general post-Vegas exhaustion, something had to give, and it was, sadly, my poor little blog.

So, I'm working on two long posts to finish out Vegas, then it's back to my usual right-wing rants.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Playing Scared - Vegas Part 2

My throat was dry. Parched. Like a desert. Like the freakin' Sahara. The only thing drier were my eyes. Three hours of sleep after a hard night of drinking and poker will do that to you. So of course, I was playing more poker.

Down about $20 for the session, I was hoping to catch a nice hand soon. Marty had already taken off, and we were supposed to leave for Sam's Town soon. I caught my pair of sixes when the waitress brought bottles of water to the table. "Thanks," we croaked in unison.

I slow played my sixes into a full house and a nice $60-odd pot. And we headed off to Sam's Town.

Now there's been plenty of tales told about the tournament. You can go here, here, or here for far better descriptions than I could give overall.

I shall say this, however - I was sitting at a table with two poker professionals and people who made my six months' experience look like about six hours. My only goal was not to go out first, which I made. And it was a piss poor way to play a tournament.

If you're going to play in a poker tournament, it's easy to play not to lose. And I can safely guarantee you will not win. You need to be willing to take chances and go balls out to take down pots. I know I didn't do this, and I bounced early. To be fair, I hadn't eaten in about 18 hours and was still nicely hung over.

I'll also say this: everyone at the tournament was very friendly and made me feel very welcome, which I greatly appreciate.

So I celebrated my departure from the tournament by joining, David, Jeff, Joe and Ryan at a $5 blackjack table, where I dropped about $40 - because I'm such a strong blackjack player. A good sign for leaving is when the dealer turns her fourth blackjack straight, but I'm a slow learner. And I was on a sandwich and diet coke high.

We returned to the Excalibur where I caught a nice nap, only to hear a loud clanging sound. Little did I know that it was the horseshoe falling out of my ass, and needless to say, many, many people picked it up and hit me over the head with it.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Landing a Juicy Fish

I woke up from my nap with dollar signs dancing through my head. We'd just landed in Phoenix, and I had the itch. One more hour to go.

Wolfing down my cheeseburger at the airport, we joked and laughed, eager for the flights to end, to fall out of the clear skies and into the smoky depths of a casino. Couldn't wait.

Lest you think I have some sort of gambling problem, well, I probably do, but mainly I was looking forward to see how well I stack up against other poker players; how I handle myself in these games. And in that regard, the trip did not disappoint.

We breezed through the airport and flew from the cab into the Excalibur. Ignoring the statues of knigts and dragons, we made it from the lobby to our room to the tables in minutes flat.

And the poker began.

I'd made some modest gains and was enjoying a cold beer when Joe Frat Boy strutted over to the table. He settled in the third position and began buying hands like crazy -and I do mean crazy - K-2o, 3-6o, no difference. He played 'em all - and kept winning.

Patience counseled my inner voice. "Man I want a piece of him," I said to the guy next to me. "Good luck," he said. "You've got the stack, but he's lucky as hell."

The poker gods finally smiled when black nines smiled up at me. I limped into the flop and prayed Joe Frat would ride along. He called, and the flop came up: 9-4-2 rainbow. There it was. I checked to him, and he bet. And nearly fell out of his seat when I raised him. How dare anyone raise him? Hadn't happened yet. And he wasn't going to take it, so he raised me back. And I reraised him.

On the turn, I saw a lovely sight: another 4. All I had to do was ride my boat down the river. But before that, I had a fish to land. We bet and raised each other to the maximum through the turn and river.

The look on his face when my full house beat his two pair was priceless. I honestly wish I had a camera. I'll give him this: he was classy - he congratulated me on a well-played hand.

As he grew increasingly drunk, the table all had a turn at him; hell, I had another, but he eventually busted out.

All told, I was up about $40 for the night, and I really needed sleep. It was nearly five in the morning after all, and I still had to play in a tournament against a bunch of people who would likely kick my ass and send me packing home.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


I'm back, light on sleep and somewhat lighter on cash. I have plenty of stories, like being splashed when water started flowing from the ceiling. How I played poker against two world-class players (and received the expected ass-kicking), and exactly why I'm in the red (I planned to lose it, so it was no problem) for the trip: Black Sunday.

But now I'm home and thinking of crawling into bed shortly. Four days of next to no sleep will do that to you.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Lights are Out and No One's Home

My bag is packed, and short a few minor preparations, I'm prepared to climb on the plane tomorrow evening. After the longest week I can remember in quite some time, I'm leaving on vacation. So basically, no new posts for a few days.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Monday, December 06, 2004

It's Time to Play the Music . . It's Time to Light the Lights

Best news I've heard all week.

Three-And-A-Half Days

That's 84 hours. 5,040 minutes. That's the countdown until vacation. I'm becoming increasingly useless at work. Visions of dancing big slick is running through my head.

Needless to say, I'm excited. But I'm not going to bore both of my loyal readers with my dreams of degenerate gambling, so it's going to be a nice miscellaneous post.

  • After years of therapy, my commercial hatred is down to only two entities: McDonalds (grr) and all the damn diamond commercials they play at Christmas. Can they make an ad more nauseating?
  • I'm a concerned parent tonight. Trudy is pretty sick and lying around the next room. I brought her water bowl upstairs along with her bed, so she can sleep upstairs tonight. Hopefully, she'll be back to her usual self tomorrow. Whether that's a good or bad thing, I'm not sure, but I much prefer my dog to be healthy and happy.
  • Why does the KMOX staff subject us to this God-awful Christmas show every year? And who do they get to shell out money for this thing? And more importantly, who told Carol Daniel she can sing? Ouch.
  • If anyone's really bored tomorrow night, I'll be appearing at the Maryland Yards in Maryland Heights tomorrow night, playing in a free poker tournament. And when I say appearing, I mean showing up. A friend called me out, so I need to defend my honor. I'll be the one leaving four minutes after it starts, muttering to himself about "calling stations" and "big blind specials".
  • Barry Bonds. Steroids. Who knew? I mean, the way his body shape changed in his mid-30s didn't indicate anything. Oh wait, Barry didn't know - he thought it was flaxseed oil. Nice, Barry. Now you're a jerk AND a moron.

Good night all. Keep warm and dry.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I Certainly Sleep Better at Night

I keep Trudy's food in her largely unused crate in the dining room. The crating experiment was a miserable failure, and rather than see Trudy hurt herself trying to get out of the crate, I just use it to store her food and water. Her bed rests on the opposite wall.

Sunday night, I sat in the living room, watching my sixth hour of poker (it's not a problem yet -- I can quit any time), when Trudy roused herself from a nap, staggered over to the side of the crate and stared.

I looked at her curiously, wondering just what the hell she was doing. She held her head low, staring at something. I began thinking senility was starting to affect my old dog, when her tail started wagging and she bolted into the kitchen.

Yep. She found a mouse.

And then she spent the next two hours searching for her new playmate, despite my shouting at her to catch it, but no - she just scampered around, wanting to play with it.

Heaven help me if someone busts in here at night. I'm not even sure she'll wake up.